What To Do After an Irregular Mammogram

Bedford Breast Center

It’s completely natural to feel on edge as you wait for mammogram results—even more so if you’re asked to return for further testing. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that most callbacks are simply a means for your doctor to be diligent, thoroughly examining any area of concern without implying a cancer diagnosis.

As female physicians, we understand the need for improved patient care at all levels—from excellent diagnostic techniques to quick and easy scheduling for breast cancer screenings.

At Bedford Breast Center, we focus on the total well-being of our patients. We have created a warm, home-like environment that removes much of the stress typically associated with breast health. We consider it a privilege to care for our patients in the Greater Los Angeles area—Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Glendale, and Malibu—and you have our support at every step.

Callbacks are Relatively Common

Mammogram callbacks can be a routine part of a comprehensive screening process. Getting called back after a mammogram is relatively common, and the statistics below show that callbacks, more often than not, demonstrate safe findings and not cancer:

  • There is a 16% chance of getting called back on your first mammogram.
  • 1 in 10 women will have an irregular mammogram.
  • 8-10% of all mammograms get called back, and fewer than 1% will be diagnosed with cancer.

When you receive a callback, try to avoid letting your thoughts immediately drift to a potential breast cancer diagnosis. Additional testing and evaluation are common, especially for premenopausal patients and those getting a mammogram for the first time (because there are no previous results to compare with the current results).

What Are the Reasons for Receiving a Callback?

You may receive a callback after your mammogram if:

  • The images were not clear enough.
  • The doctor wants to look closer or examine an area from different angles.
  • You have dense breast tissue, making it difficult to see certain areas of your breasts.
  • The radiologist detected calcifications (calcium build-up). Calcium deposits are common and are usually benign, especially after menopause.
  • The radiologist detected an area that stands apart from the rest of your breast tissue. This could occur for several reasons, most of which are safe. Examples include a cyst or fluid-filled sac, tissue stacked on top of itself, or a non-cancerous solid mass like a fibroadenoma.

At Bedford Breast Center, if our patients need to return, we call them to explain what we are seeing and what we expect to find when they come back for new images.

What if My Doctor Recommends a Biopsy?

Additional screening, such as a biopsy, may be recommended. A biopsy is the best way to evaluate if a suspicious lump or portion of your breast is cancerous. If you are concerned, do not hesitate to ask questions. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Why do I need a biopsy?
  • What do you expect to find out from a biopsy?
  • Will it require surgery?
  • Can I opt for a minimally invasive biopsy removal?
  • Will I need a clip marker placement? Are clip markers optional?

A biopsy is usually a simple procedure that can help put your mind at ease about a suspicious mammogram or a newly discovered breast lump. There are 3 types of breast biopsy procedures:

  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy
  • Core-needle biopsy
  • Surgical biopsy

The type of biopsy performed depends on factors such as the size and location and size of the lump, the number of lumps or tumors, and how suspicious the lump looks.

At Bedford Breast Center, we commonly use the core-needle and surgical biopsy procedures. After taking tissue samples, your doctor may leave a marker or clip to identify the biopsy site, which will be visible on a mammogram and sometimes also on ultrasound. This will help your doctor locate the site easily when needed, whether to monitor the area to ensure it remains stable or to use it for guidance and confirmation if removal is necessary. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of the biopsy options recommended for you.

What If I Am Routinely Called Back?

A callback usually means additional imaging. While most abnormal findings turn out to be benign, completing all follow-up procedures as recommended by your doctor is crucial.

We may routinely call you back if your mammogram results show that you have dense breast tissue. Dense breasts are those with a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Some women have denser breast tissue than others, which is a normal finding. However, women with dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who don’t have dense breasts.

3D mammography offers more precise and accurate imaging for those with and without dense breasts. By making it possible to catch something that might have been obscured with traditional mammogram technology, 3D mammography provides significant advantages for women with dense breasts or women who prefer a more thorough screening process.

Our team aims to make the experience as stress-free as possible. In some cases, you can get immediate results for your diagnostic mammogram; ask if you qualify for a same-day read. You can also request an ultrasound to help put your mind at ease.

If subsequent screenings result in a breast cancer diagnosis, know that Bedford Breast Center is here for you with a range of promising treatments and successful outcomes.

Trust Our Breast Experts

Our world-class facility serves women throughout Los Angeles, Southern California, and nationwide. To learn more about breast cancer screening, call us at (310) 278-8590 or contact us using the online form to schedule an appointment.

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